Lisbon Foras Programme For Start-ups, Portugal 2023

We are excited to announce the female-focused 2023 Lisbon Foras Programme, in partnership with The Scottish Government.

After the success of excursions to Silicon Valley, Helsinki and New York, Foras plans to take 20 founders and startup leaders, (15 female-led, 5 male-led), on a funded programme to Lisbon to coincide with the Web Summit conference, 11–18 November 2023.

This November, we are hosting a fully-funded* journey to Web Summit, one of the biggest conferences in the world. Becoming a global business is no easy task on a tight budget, so we’re handling the bills so you can focus on doing what you do best.

In line with the Pathways report, this programme will have a strong focus on addressing the barriers and challenges women face in entrepreneurship, including professional mentorship, peer connectivity, access points to relevant support organisations, fundraising best practices and investor-facing opportunities.

We will be partnering with a number of sponsors who support growing businesses and whose values align with the vision of the project. Contributions from these sponsors have enabled us to offer financial subsidies to support the cost of accommodation and flights for participants’ partners and children, based on learnings from past programmes and the Pathways report.

Application Deadline: Fri 25th August, 5pm

Why Lisbon?

The Lisbon ecosystem is now worth £20bn, a 26x growth since 2016. Lisbon’s two unicorns OutSystems and Talkdesk are two of the most valuable companies in Southern Europe. Lisbon boasts a rich abundance of investors, incubators and accelerators.

What can you expect from the programme?

The term ‘Foras’ means growth, abroad, “for us”. We can see this as going forth, to look outwards, together, to meet and create a forum for discussion. Those values and intentions are at the root of the design of this programme.

This programme will build on recent successful cohort visits from the Foras team to Silicon Valley in April 2022, the Slush conference in Helsinki in Nov 2022 and NYC in April 2023.

This opportunity will be useful for Scotland-based businesses considering international market entry, raising capital from international investors, and establishing international partnership opportunities in Europe. In addition, this programme will foster peer relationships, founder education and break down barriers for some of Scotland’s most promising startup businesses who want to crack the next stage of their growth.

Expect to experience the vibrant culture of Lisbon, have quality time with established global startup success stories and Scottish diaspora businesses, visit world-class accelerators and be part of unique networking opportunities with entrepreneurial representatives and investors from around the world at Web Summit. The week will come to a close with a unique opportunity to pitch your business at an exclusive investor and ecosystem mixer event.

What you need to know:

What: 20-person (15 female-led, 5 male-led) entrepreneurial cohort programme

Where: Lisbon, Portugal

When: 11–18 November 2023 (Inclusive)

*What we’re paying for:

  • Return flights from Edinburgh to Lisbon
  • Twin-share hotel accommodation in Lisbon with breakfast (subsidised upgrades upon request and availibility)
  • Tickets to the 3-day Web Summit conference
  • Activities, workshops and professional visits including invite-only investor event
  • Subsidy for partner/children thanks to our sponsors

Key Dates

  • Mon 31st July, 9am: Applications open
  • Fri 25th August, 5pm: Applications close
  • W/C 4th September: Finalists invited to pitching event, unsuccessful emails sent
  • Wed 13th September, 11.00–15.00: Finalists pitching event (Glasgow)
  • Wed 27th September, 11.00–15.00: Cohort briefing event (Edinburgh)

Who you are and requirements

  • Founder, Director or C-Suite Leader in a Scotland-based startup or scaleup. Applications are welcome from any industry, so long as you are a high-growth potential/scaleable business
  • Meet Portuguese travel/entry requirements
  • Can commit fully to the programme (11–18 Nov) and the two mandatory pre-programme events (13 Sep & 27 Sep)
  • Excited to be part of this cohort and connect with the best and brightest from the global entrepreneurship scene


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